We are pleased to support the first ever e-petition in the NSW Parliament - a petition to overturn the ban on pets in strata buildings. People love their pets. In fact, around 63% of Australian households own a pet. However, for most people who live in a rental home, or in a strata building there are draconian rules banning pets even when they have no impact on neighbours. This makes it extremely difficult for households with pets to find a new home when they need it.
Both our rental laws and our strata laws make it really tough for people with a pet – only 2% of rental properties allow pets, and heartbreakingly, it means that lots of pets end up in animal shelters because renters often can’t take their pet with them when they are forced to move house. Likewise in strata buildings, the current model bylaws for strata buildings include an outright ban on pets, which can be very difficult to change.
Every Australian State and Territory now has some form of protection for pet ownership in strata – except for NSW, the most densely-populated State with the greatest proportion of people living in strata. This not only negatively impacts people currently in NSW strata schemes, but also the many more pet-owners wanting to move to strata living like older Australians looking to downsize, those whose financial circumstances have changed and those looking to get a foot in the door of the housing market or preferring the convenience of apartment living.
When you are renting, of living in a strata building, our laws mean that you are forced to seek permission for normal life events like getting a pet. Responsible adults are able to make a decision to have children capable of making the decision to get a pet, and should not have to ask permission from another adult to get a pet dog, fish or cat.
If the pet damages a rental property, our laws already have provision to ensure that the tenant pays for repairs. That’s what the bond is for. The restrictions on pets make it extremely hard for pet owners to find a decent place to live. For those living in strata buildings, there are also protections to ensure that neighbours have a right to quiet enjoyment of their home. But there is no reason to ban pets that do not impact on neighbours.
That’s why our rental laws, and our strata laws need to change, to reflect the way we are living our lives.